Kings

Instant Replay: Cousins wins battle of bigs, Kings edge Nuggets

Instant Replay: Cousins wins battle of bigs, Kings edge Nuggets

BOX SCORE

After two straight losses, the Sacramento Kings gritted one out in Denver Tuesday night, coming away with a much needed road win against a young Nuggets team. The Kings featured a balanced attack and picked up timely baskets when they needed them to pull out the 120-113 win. 

Darren Collison is finding his game. After a prolonged struggle, Collison has bounced back of late, posting big numbers as a second scoring option for Sacramento. The Nuggets had no answer for the Kings starting point guard who finished the night with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Collison added seven assists and turned the ball over just twice in 35 minutes of action.

Nikola Jokic will see DeMarcus Cousins in his nightmares. Sacramento’s star big man dominated the Nuggets up-and-comer, scoring 31 points, grabbing six rebounds and handing out six assists in the win.

We have an Arron Afflalo sighting. Things haven’t gone as planned for Afflalo in his first season in Sacramento, but he came out firing Tuesday night against his former team. The 10-year NBA vet hit 8-for-11 from the field for a big 19 points off the Kings bench.

Big man Kosta Koufos played big in the post, dropping in 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbing five rebounds. Garrett Temple came up big late, scoring eight points while grabbing six rebounds and dishing out five assists.

Denver found their range early from behind the arc, torching the Kings for 11 3-pointers before the intermission. The Kings did a better job late, but the Nuggets still hit 18-for-38 shooting from deep on the night.

Danilo Gallinari is a matchup nightmare for the Kings. The sweet-shooting Italian knocked down 4-for-6 from the perimeter on his way to 24 points. 

Jusuf Nurkic went to work against the Kings’ big frontline. The third-year big poured in 16 points, six rebounds and four assists. Jokic struggled early, but still managed to score 18 points and grab seven rebounds and hand out five assists.

Shooting guard Gary Harris added 15 points and Darrell Arthur finished with 12 points as the Nuggets fell a game and half behind the Kings in the standings.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Welcome back to Denver Arron Afflalo. The veteran shooting guard had his best game of the season coming off Dave Joerger’s bench after missing three games with an elbow injury. 

TURNING POINT

Sacramento played well down the stretch to outlast the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. They pushed the lead to 11 midway through the fourth and never looked back on their way to their 15th win on the season.

INJURY UPDATE 

Ty Lawson tried to give it a go in pregame after suffering a maxillary sinus fracture Saturday against Memphis. He has now been diagnosed with subconjunctival hemorrhage in his right eye (blurred vision). Rudy Gay missed his third straight and has now sat in nine of the Kings previous 10 games with a right hip flexor strain. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Kings return home following the game to face an injury decimated Miami Heat team Wednesday night at the Golden 1 Center. 

Kings hire VP of professional development

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AP

Kings hire VP of professional development

It’s been a summer of change for the Sacramento Kings. A roster upheaval has 10 new players vying for minutes once training camp opens on Tuesday. The coaching staff has been bolstered and fresh blood was added to the front office in the form of analytics guru Luke Bornn and assistant general manager Brandon Williams. On Thursday, one more piece to the puzzle was brought in to help develop the team’s young core.

With the hiring of Galen Duncan as the franchise’s new Vice President of the Kings Academy and Professional Development, Sacramento is making a major investment in the future of their team.

According to the team’s official press release, “Duncan is responsible for implementation of the Kings Academy program, a developmental, player-centric curriculum aligning multi-faceted organizational philosophies and ideals to help athletes mature into well-rounded professionals. Under Duncan’s oversight, Kings Academy will augment on-court progress with access to practical material and experiences that help balance on-court priorities and personal responsibilities with opportunities to become impactful contributors in the community.”

After 10 years with the Detroit Lions, Duncan is making the jump to the NBA game. He’s already had a taste of the league, working with the league office as part of the NBA Rookie Transition Program.

With five rookies and another four sophomores on the roster, the Kings are investing in a seasoned mentor and life coach. Armed with a Ph.D. in health psychology from Walden University, Duncan will aid the players in everything from finding an apartment to dealing with the stress of life as a 19-year-old millionaire with no experience paying a bill.

“My passion has always been sports,” Duncan told NBC Sports California. “Sports has done wonderful things for me. I don’t care what level they’re at or how much money they make, I think there is something to learn and I have something to teach.”

With the Lions, he brought incoming rookie classes through everything from etiquette courses to teaching them how to tie ties. His goal is to transform a group of young men into professionals, who just happen to be professional athletes.

It’s not just about making a polished product for the media and general public. Duncan will work with players on a variety of personal issues, including money management, dealing with family and professional on-court performance.

“Unfortunately, sometimes family can be your worst enemy,” Duncan said. “But if structured correctly and if nurtured, I think the education goes beyond just the player. I think you have to educate the family as well about what they’re doing.”

The transition to the NBA game will be interesting for Duncan. He comes from a game where the incoming rookie class can be anywhere from 10-15 players. He hasn’t dealt with 19-year-olds at the NFL level and guaranteed contracts are new as well, but the job is very similar.

Sacramento has always had a support staff to help with the transition to the NBA game, but the addition of Duncan is a new level of commitment by the team. They have a huge group of young players and they are making an investment into their futures and the future of the franchise. It’s a clear step in the right direction.

Kings finally get to unleash highly skilled weapon Bogdan Bogdanovic on NBA stage

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AP

Kings finally get to unleash highly skilled weapon Bogdan Bogdanovic on NBA stage

The legend of Bogdan Bogdanovic grows. After another deep run against European competition, the 25-year-old shooting guard is headed for the NBA with plenty of fanfare.

Bogdanovic and his Serbian teammates fell short of the ultimate goal of winning EuroBasket 2017. Goran Dragic and Team Slovenia took home the gold, pulling away from Serbia for the 93-85 victory in the finals on Sunday.

Dragic scored a game-high 35 points in 28 minutes of action, giving Bogdanovic a taste of what the competition will look like on a nightly basis in the NBA. Bogdanovic led Serbia with 22 points on 9-of-21 shooting, but he struggled from long range, knocking down 2-of-11 from behind the international 3-point line.

The Kings acquired Bogdanovic from the Phoenix Suns, along with the rights to Georgios Papagiannis and Skal Labissiere for Marquese Chriss on Draft night 2016. Phoenix had failed multiple times in their attempts to bring the sharpshooter over from his Turkish league team after taking him with the 27th overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Vlade Divac couldn’t get Bogdanovic to come over for last season, but he found traction early this summer and added the talented wing as part of his July shopping spree.

After dominating league action overseas, Bogdanovic became the highest paid rookie in NBA history, signing a three-year, $27 million deal with Sacramento. He’ll make close to $9.5 million in his first season in the league, more than double what fifth overall pick, De’Aaron Fox, is scheduled to make.   

Bogdanovic walks into a crowded situation in Sacramento. He’ll compete for minutes with Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple and Malachi Richardson at the shooting guard position. Both Hield and Temple worked under coach Dave Joerger for parts of last season, but the Kings front office is very high on their European import.

Listed at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Bogdanovic has great size for the two and he might even be able to shift to the small forward spot for short stints. He is not the defender that Temple is and Hield might have an edge on him as a volume scorer, but Bogdanovic has an advantage over both players in versatility.

He’s a highly skilled offensive weapon that should make an immediate impact on the floor. He spent plenty of time manning the point guard position for Serbia and can even act as the primary ball handler. Bogdanovic is blessed with an extremely high basketball IQ and he’s shown advanced playmaking skills, both with Fenerbahce and the Serbian national team.

Bogdanovic can light it up from distance, having knocked down 43 percent of 3-pointers this season for Fenerbahce, but he’s not just a catch and shoot player. He hit 50 percent from the field overall using a variety of moves to create space. He has a killer crossover and step back jumper, a nice floater in the lane and he is fearless going to the rack.

Where he has the biggest advantage over his competition is in the pick-and-roll. Bogdanovic uses hesitation dribbles and crafty maneuvering to create looks for both himself and his bigs moving to the hoop. He also has nice court vision and is an unselfish distributor.

If Bogdanovic’s European game translates to the NBA, Sacramento has a rotational player and possibly much more. He’ll likely struggle on the defensive end initially, like most rookies coming into the league, but he plays with effort and has solid instincts.

Joerger has a lot to work out during training camp and the early season. He has multiple bodies at every position and the competition for minutes is going to be intense. While it’s early to make predictions, it appears that Bogdanovic will have a substantial role as the Kings enter year one of their rebuild.